News - Aug 2018

Upcoming Symposium on Addiction and PTSD

Addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often occur together, causing debilitating consequences for those affected. There is little consensus among clinicians about how best to treat individuals suffering from both disorders, but new research is providing hope for patients and healthcare providers alike. This will be the focus of an upcoming symposium.

ConferenceIn October, experts from HRI and Homewood Health Centre will discuss the latest science, outcomes and promising practices related to the treatment of co-occurring addiction and PTSD at the 2018 Canadian Society for Addiction Medicine Annual Meeting and Scientific Conference (CSAM).

Each year, CSAM brings together researchers, educators and clinicians from across Canada and around the world. This year, the conference explores the theme “Crisis, Controversy and Change”, shedding light on the urgent need for improvements to mental health and addiction care. Experts from various disciplines will present research and exchange ideas to advance science and treatment.

The joint symposium, coordinated by HRI Research and Evaluation Scientist, Dr. Jean Costello, will feature the following speakers and topics:

  • Dr. Vivian Sarabia, Addiction Physician at Homewood Health Centre, will discuss the leading hypotheses that attempt to explain why PTSD and addiction often occur simultaneously;
  • Sabrina Kaur Syan, a PhD student working alongside HRI Senior Scientist Dr. James MacKillop, will present results from a study that investigates PTSD symptom severity as a predictor of drop-out from inpatient addiction treatment;
  • Dr. Hollam Sutandar, Addiction Psychiatrist at Homewood Health Centre, will discuss a pilot study that examines the use of Cognitive Processing Therapy in treating patients with co-occurring PTSD and addiction; and
  • Dr. Margaret McKinnon, Homewood Research Chair in Mental Health and Trauma, will share findings from a trial investigating the use of Goal Management Training (a cognitive skills training program) in patients with PTSD, as well as patients with co-occurring PTSD and addiction.

This symposium is an excellent example of the collaboration between Homewood Health Centre clinicians and HRI researchers. Together, we are generating findings and bringing new treatment ideas into practice sooner.

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Promoting Patient-Oriented Research

Recovery from addiction can mean different things to different people. A recent publication by HRI Research and Evaluation Scientist, Dr. Jean Costello, highlights the importance of incorporating insights from people with lived experience when building systems for measuring treatment success.

How to Measure Addiction Recovery? Incorporating Perspectives of Individuals with Lived Experience was published in the June 2018 edition of the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. Co-authored by Senior Research Associates, Courtney Ropp and Sarah Sousa, and HRI Senior Scientist, Dr. Brian Rush, the article outlines a study conducted between December 2014 and March 2015. Study participants were recruited from the Addiction Medicine Service Aftercare/Relapse-Prevention Program at Homewood Health Centre.

Group discussionThrough a series of focus groups and interviews, researchers identified four major themes related to how participants perceived recovery:

  1. Recovery is a process.
  2. Abstinence is an important aspect of recovery, but not sufficient.
  3. Recovery is multidimensional.
  4. Recovery requires ongoing commitment.

The authors conclude that recognizing recovery as a life-long process reinforces the need to measure and monitor outcomes well after treatment is completed. Further, input from individuals with lived experience helped to identify a number of important indicators of recovery that should be measured as part of a comprehensive outcome-monitoring system.

This study promotes the concept of human-centred design, which incorporates insights from end users during the development of a product or service. In this instance, patients are helping to shape research that will be meaningful to others experiencing addiction.

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Leading Evaluation Expert Joins HRI Team

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Brian Rush, Scientist Emeritus with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, has joined the HRI team as Senior Scientist.

Dr. Brian RushDr. Rush is a leading international expert in program and policy evaluation. With a research career that spans nearly 40 years, he has a particular interest in performance-measurement systems for substance use, problem gambling and mental health services. Dr. Rush will play an integral role in further developing the Recovery Journey Project at HRI.

The Recovery Journey Project is a rigorous data-collection system that allows for the ongoing evaluation of mental health and addiction treatment at Homewood Health Centre in Guelph, Ontario. The system holds great potential for guiding improvements to care in Canada and beyond.

Led by Dr. Jean Costello, Research and Evaluation Scientist, the Recovery Journey Project is a flagship model that can be adapted for use in a range of treatment settings to measure recovery outcomes. Dr. Rush will work alongside Dr. Costello as the Recovery Journey Project expands.

Recovery Journey Project Highlights:

  • One of Canada’s only longitudinal studies measuring mental health and addiction recovery success
  • Helps us monitor and evaluate treatment quality and effectiveness
  • Generates knew knowledge about the recovery process
  • Can help determine how best to use limited resources to help as many people as possible
  • Adaptable to fit other treatment domains and settings

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